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mangrove crabs

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One of a teeming hoard of small crabs living in the mangroves at Urunga on the NSW north coast. When the tide is low these little guys (about an inch in body) in a rainbow of colours can be seen scuttling about and ducking up out of a carpet of holes in the mud.

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Straw-necked Ibis are pied ibis with long yellow plumes on their necks and black plumage on wings that are glossed with blue, purple and green iridescence. They nest in bushes or trees over water and this pair were testing out their vertigo skills in a tree in a paddock (but close to a river). They are pretty common throughout Australia and are great travellers.

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There was great debate when a group of birders spotted this fellow as to whether it was a Grey-tailed Tattler or a Wandering Tattler but the majority voted for a Wandering in breeding plumage. They are very similar but the Wandering Tattler is darker on upperparts, particularly the mantle and crown and in breeding the breast, flanks and abdomen are more heavily bared and extensive than the Grey-tailed. Spotted at Urunga on the NSW north coast.

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The Golden-headed Cisticola is a meagre 10 cms tip to tail. They are small grassbirds that nest in a dome of grass mixed with plant-down and spiderweb that they enter near the top. The 3-4 eggs are a blotched blue. They are common residents in grasslands and crops in eastern, northern and north-western Australia and King Island but being so tiny can be difficult to spot. I saw this one near Bellingen on the NSW north coast, it was a lucky shot out of the window of the car after a fellow birder spotted it on a country road.

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This capture shows the yellowish rump and chestnut breast of the Chestnut-breasted Mannikin. They have a strong relationship with grasslands as they mostly feed on seeding grass and make a nest that resembles a large globe of flattened grass in long grass where they lay 5-6 white eggs.

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The Chestnut-breasted Mannikin is only 11cm with a grey-bill, black face, chestnut breast, yellowish rump and tail.  While it is a common resident or nomad in grassy woodlands around the top end and east coasts of Australia its numbers appear to be decreasing. This is the first one I have seen in the wild near Bellingen on the NSW north coast. Because they move quickly, screened by grass and other vegetation it is tricky to capture them, more so in my case as I only have a 24 zoom and have to creep pretty close to my subjects.

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The Red-backed Fairy-wren is the smallest fairy-wren at a tiny 12-13cm. It is found in tropical and subtropical woodland with grass understory. It is the male who wears the bright red coat and the female is the plainest of all the female wrens with even no blue in her tail. I spotted this one on a birding outing near Bellingen on the NSW north coast, it was in grassland beside the road and I wasn’t able to move any closer but it looks rather pretty posed in the grass stalks. For a closer look try here.

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Curlews are large waders with long down-curved bills. This Eastern Curlew is a common migrant from eastern Asia and inhabits a coastal strip right around mainland Australia and Tasmania favouring mudflats, mangroves, islands, estuaries and sandpits. I spotted this one on a birding outing at Urunga boardwalk that meanders across sand-flats into mangroves.

black cockatoo

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The black cockatoos are one of my favourite birds, this is a male Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, they are more colourful than the female with their hot pink eye ring and darker beak. They are loud and cheeky birds and a lot of fun to observe and around here favour banksia flowers/seed pods like this one, and the needles of the she-oak visible in the background.

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